Meet the 30X30: Bitcoin Well’s Adam O’Brien is Helping People Take Control of Their Money
Our sixth annual Bay Street Bull 30X30 guide showcases a group of incredible individuals who are redefining the way we do business, championing their communities, and cultivating entirely new industries. From tech and environmental pioneers to cryptocurrency entrepreneurs and media trailblazers, each of this year’s inductees is challenging Canadians to think (and work) differently for a brighter future.
In our series of one-on-one interviews, get to know each honouree a little better: their values, mission, lessons learned, and best advice.
CEO and co-founder, Bitcoin Well
What is your elevator pitch to the world?
Adam O’Brien: I implore the world to welcome innovative and disruptive technologies that bring power and control to the individual. Bitcoin is the greatest technology to do this since the internet!
What excites you most about the work that you are doing?
Adam O’Brien: It excites me to no end that my children and grandchildren, and their grandchildren will be able to grow up in a world where they will have access to the tools and technology that will allow them to fully own and control their finances, thanks in part to the work we are doing at Bitcoin Well.
What are you doing that no one else is doing? Or, how are you doing it better than others?
Adam O’Brien: We at Bitcoin Well are taking an education-focused approach to give the world something they don’t realize they need: custody of money. The same way Apple gave us a glass phone before we knew we needed it, bitcoin is giving us control of our money before the majority of the world knows we need it. Our focus is heavily geared towards bitcoin usability in a self-custodied environment, which is the safest way to interact with money.
Where do you think you have made the most impact in your industry and/or community?
Adam O’Brien: Focusing on giving the end-user full control of their money (bitcoin) from day one. This has been an uphill battle that has largely cost us more to maintain, develop, and educate our customers. However, we have started seeing that pay off by enabling a financially sovereign world.
What kind of problems are you trying to solve?
Adam O’Brien: Banks have the power in the relationship with their customers. We are enabling individuals to take control of their money, by making bitcoin easy, safe, and usable with the same convenience they have with their modern banking, but backed by the benefits and security of bitcoin. We see a large opportunity to educate and show people how bitcoin can benefit them, and ultimately give them access to wealth.
What is missing when we have conversations around digital financial technology and currency? Where do you think progress needs to be made?
Adam O’Brien: The concept of sound money and “savings” is still missing. People currently view bitcoin as an investment, rather than savings. There is also a misconception that all “crypto” is equal, or that central bank digital currencies are the same as bitcoin. This is false! Canadians are, broadly speaking, a lot more comfortable with bitcoin and more and more people are opening up to the idea of “digital” decentralized money.
What are some misconceptions about Bitcoin that you hope to dispel?
Adam O’Brien: The environmental factor. Bitcoin is one of, if not the only, industry that is financially incentivized to innovate and create better renewable sources of energy. Further, it pales in comparison to the servers/data farms of significant tech giants and even the legacy financial system.
Where do you see the future of bitcoin and digital financial technology going?
Adam O’Brien: We at Bitcoin Well are hyper-focused on usability. I am excited to make bitcoin easy to access and use for the everyday user. Emphasis on self-custody will be extremely important in the coming years and will provide so many exciting opportunities for Canadians to own their wealth.
What has been your proudest moment as a business owner?
Adam O’Brien: Legitimizing the Bitcoin ATM industry by becoming the world’s first publicly traded Bitcoin ATM industry gave the entire Canadian landscape a boost. Before Bitcoin Well went public, the industry was struggling to receive basic services like banking, credit, and secure cash transit. Since going public, the industry has enjoyed these business services and more which I believe is, in part, due to the legitimacy publicly-traded organization brings to that sector of the industry.
What have you learned about yourself as you’ve built your company?
Adam O’Brien: Resilience! I hear “no” 100x before we make any headway. The concept of two steps forward and one step back is true in an emerging, disrupting market, and my resilience has been tested and strengthened over the last few years.
What is one lesson that you hope people will learn or walk away from your work?
Adam O’Brien: The importance of self custody of sound money. Very few people realize how little control individuals have over their money and people are currently scared of the technology that brings that power back to the users (bitcoin). I am hopeful that my work will give users the confidence and ability to take control of their money, and become financially independent.